1 The Muppet Mindset: Los Fraguels

Oct 5, 2010

Los Fraguels


 Today we have an exciting look at a neat exhibit featuring actual Fraggles in Spain. It seems incredibly cool--so see for yourself!


LOS FRAGUELS

Christopher O'Connor - About 4 months ago I was looking around Muppet Wiki and I stumbled across a page called Los Fraguels, which I’m sure most of you will know is the name used for Fraggle Rock in Spain. At the bottom of this page was a small section of photographs featuring the puppets of Red, Gobo, and Wembley titled Museu Internacional de Titelles de Albaida, (International Museum of Puppets) better known as MITA. 

After further research I discovered that in a small town in the province of Valencia, Spain, is a Museum dedicated to puppetry. I immediately starting planning a family trip to Valencia, and on Wednesday September 15th 2010, after arriving in the city of Valencia the day before, I was up early and ready to head out for the day. My family and I made the two hour trip from Valencia City to a small town called Albaida.

On arrival, the town square had a large old building, looking a bit like a small castle, which had a sign for the Tourist Information centre on the ground floor. I entered to ask where the Museum was located, to discover that it was actually in the same building!

The girl on the desk took our 3 euros each entry fee and walked across the room to turn on the lights in the museum (Nice to see they protect the puppets when not been looked at). She led us up the stairs and into a small screening room. She explained that the museum was set up by two brothers who owned a successful puppetry company in Spain, they had travelled the world learning about different cultures forms of puppetry old and new.

We were then shown a short film about the museum, the English audio track wasn’t working, so we had to listen to it in Spanish, it ran for about ten minutes………but felt like ten hours! There was a small ten second clip of Kermit and Sam from Muppet Treasure Island but as I cannot speak Spanish I have no idea what was being said!

FINALLY the film ended and we were free to go off and view the collection at our own leisure. The first floor was full of various old puppets from various cultures and religions, most of them hand puppets or paper mache, I whizzed through this floor in probably a minute or so, and started to climb the second stair case to the second floor of the museum dedicated to TV & Film Puppets.

The first thing that caught my eye on the staircase was a Spanish poster of Labyrinth  and The Dark Crystal, as well as posters for E.T. and a few others, at the top of the stair case were two smaller posters for the Spanish version of The Muppet Movie! I walked briskly through this floor in search of Fraggles……………and soon found some!

In a large glass display case on the left side of the vast room were Red, Gobo and Wembley! As a huge fan of Fraggle Rock from the beginning, it was surreal and maybe a bit strange to finally come face to face with these characters. On the left was Gobo, playing his guitar, which I thought was in the wrong hand, which it mostly is, except from on the album cover of the Music and Magic album… maybe Gobo is ambidextrous? I also noticed that he had two Doozer sticks in his jacket top pocket, and a postcard in one of his back pockets! I also noticed that the back of Gobo’s yellow and pink sweater was missing? The arms and front panel were intact, but underneath the arm holes on his jacket/waistcoat you could see his brown fur, no back panel! Gobo also wore a knitted hat and his neck tie.

Next was Red, or as she is called in Spain, Rosi. Red was probably in worse condition than the other two, her head was slightly mis-shaped around the eye area and a fold in the fabric on the left side of her bottom jaw looked odd. I noticed that the fabric for her sweater is towelling, which doesn’t show in photos or on T. Also, the pink ribbons in her hair are not made of ribbon at all but strips of pink velvet.
 

Finally, on the right, was Wembley, known as Dudo, waving with one hand up and wearing his banana tree shirt. It struck me how big his hands and feet are. Wembley also seemed to have a much longer tail than the other two.

I was unsure if these Fraggles were puppets or posers, although I would be more inclined to say posers. I could see no ‘sock’ area, nor could see any sign of holes on the arms for the rods to attach to, plus they had wires inside to pose them. Although on return I have spent a lot of time trying to find posers that match these, the easiest thing to compare was the pattern on Wembley’s shirt and where the buttons are placed, so far I cannot find any, please let us know if you do!

Along the base of the glass case were several pictures of Jim Henson, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the Sesame Street gang, but oddly, no pictures of the Fraggles. The panel had a brief history of Jim Henson, and mentioned Sesame Street, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. It said that the puppets were courtesy of The Jim Henson Legacy. The text was repeated three times in three different languages.

A large screen opposite the case played a ten minute video of clips from the Down at Fraggle Rock documentary. There were also other puppets from Spanish TV shows on display on this floor.

After a good half an hour or so it was time to leave, I desperately wanted to take Wembley with me, but I knew that would never happen! Back in the entrance area, there were advertising postcards which featured Wembley and a postcard that could be purchased for 0.50 cents of all three Fraggles! These can be seen on the Muppet Wiki article, Los Fraguel.

Here is the museum's official Website: http://www.albaida.org/mita/mita.htm 

Here is a link to my Photobucket Album with pictures of the exhibit: http://s46.photobucket.com/albums/f112/KERMIE1/Fraggles%20in%20Spain/

If you are ever in that area of Spain, stop by and say hello to some familiar faces, and remember You Cannot Leave the Magic--but I didn’t know I would find it in Spain!













The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Christopher. It must have been so cool to see those three in person!

    From the looks of Red and Wembley, I would venture to guess that they are the original puppets that were replaced part way through Season 1. Red's uneven mouth structure and both the extra hair hanging in front of Wembley's face as well as his long tail seem consistent with how they looked in the earliest episodes. Additionally, those characteristics have never been seen anywhere else except in the earliest promotional photos, likely before they had dedicated posers.

    I would also venture to guess, with no evidence whatsoever, that they were probably converted to posers shortly after being retired as puppets. Although rarely seen, the main five have been exhibited over the years (even during the 80s when the show was still in production, I believe).

    Thanks again!

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